Fraudulent High School Diplomas?

You’ve seen them, and so have I.  We’ve all received ads delivered to our in boxes suggesting we can be awarded (read that purchase) various degrees.  Once we possess the degree, we can move easily into the school or profession of our choice.  Barriers to entrance are flattened.  Diplomas mills, as these are called, are everywhere.  And the U.S. Department of Education is taking action!

Effective 2011, the U.S. Department of Education is requiring colleges that receive federal funds to adopt procedures to determine the validity of a student’s high school diploma when the student applies for Federal Aid through the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid).

Does this new rule apply to students who are home schooled?  No, which is good news!  If you plan to complete a FAFSA this winter, we recommend that students who are home schooled check “home schooled” to avoid delays in the processing of their application.

What about students enrolled in a diploma program?  For the time being, we also recommend checking the “home schooled” box simply because there is bound to be confusion as colleges establish “procedures” and the U.S.Department of Education creates “lists” identifying “valid” (not necessarily accredited) diploma program options. Everybody knows (even though some are unwilling to admit) that bureaucracies are not known for their speed and adroitness.

For those of you completing a college application (not to be confused with a FAFSA) and are enrolled in a diploma program such as NCCA we recommend identifying the school you are graduating from.  FAFSA’s and college applications are separate entities.

Among the reasons colleges like to see that a student has received a diploma from a legitimate diploma program are:

  • The student’s academic record is presented clearly and concisely by means of a transcript
  • Increased credibility of the student’s record of achievement
  • The ease of being able to determine scholarships the student may be eligible for based upon the transcript’s GPA and SAT or ACT scores

In addition to the above, many parents decide to enroll into a diploma program in order to:

  • Benefit from the life experience of a mentor who has gone “before you”
  • Receive professional, academic advice
  • Request letters of reference from the student’s academic advisor
  • Help ease the entrance into college

Hopefully, the above information clarifies the recent action taken by the U.S. Department of Education.  Expect additional communications as this new policy is implemented.


Curt Bumcrot is the founder and director of Basic Skills Assessment and Educational Services. He has been active both as a teacher and administrator in Christian Schools. He and his wife, Jenny, who home schooled their three children, currently reside in Oregon City.

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